Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently conducted an interview with QUIET RIOT drummer Frankie Banali. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Icon Vs. Icon: You brushed elbows and worked with amazing people in the industry. Who had the biggest impact on you creatively?
Banali: “Of the people I have worked with, it would have to be Kevin DuBrow. He was the most dynamic personality I have ever met. He was all over the place. He had so much energy and charisma but he really, really loved music, singing and all the English bands from the ’60s and ’70s. We had that great connection. I think he made the most impact on me because without Kevin, QUIET RIOT wouldn’t have been the QUIET RIOT that we became at the time. He was a huge part of it and he was also a huge part of my personal life. So, of the people I have worked with, the person who had the biggest impact on me would have to be Kevin DuBrow.”
Icon Vs. Icon: Your road to success didn’t happen overnight. How did your leaner years as a musician shape the man we see today?
Banali: The thing that was different for me than a lot of players in California when I came out, and one of the reasons I was so prepared and poised to act, was that when you were a musician back on the East Coast, you were used to playing four, five or six 45-minute sets a night. Not only did doing that build up your endurance but it also built up the catalog you had to know how to play and the variety of styles. You weren’t just playing rock — you were playing rock, funk and fusion. It was the great underground university for musicians back east. When I came out to California, bands here were only used to playing 30 minutes, 40 minutes or maybe 60 minutes and they were coming off stage like they had just run a marathon. For me, I was just getting warmed up. When I came out to L.A., I have always been a very work-oriented person and I was in five bands almost all of the time because it took five bands just to be broke! [Laughs] I would get a little money from one band from rehearsing, a little money from another from doing a show, maybe some drum sticks from one band and maybe some drum heads from another, just to get through it but that’s what you had to do! You had to have that kind of dedication. You couldn’t be thin skinned and you had to receive rejection really, really well because once you get rejected you have to brush it off and go to the next thing.”
Icon Vs. Icon: That dedication served you well! What are the keys to longevity in the music business?
Banali: “I think you have to be realistic. I also think you have to be flexible and be able to change when change happens. Change happens all the time in life, but especially in this business. You have to have a goal and you have to have plans and be able to shift gears at a moment’s notice. Sometimes the music business is like the weather — it can be gorgeous outside but you better have an umbrella with you because you never know when the storm is going to hit you. You just have to be prepared. At the same time, you have to put the time into it and dedicate yourself. You can’t put things on the backburner that need to be addressed immediately and that’s what I do. If there is a problem, I assess it, I address it, I deal with it and I move on.”
Icon Vs. Icon: QUIET RIOT has a new album, “Road Rage”, that has been in the making for a little while. I know you encountered speed bumps along the way. What got the ball rolling and made this the time for a new QUIET RIOT record?
Banali: “I received a communication from Frontiers Records in Italy and they wanted to know if I would be interested in doing a QUIET RIOT record. They had pursued me in the past and, at the time, I really wasn’t motivated to make a record for a variety of reasons. When this one came around, I thought the time was right but it also coincided with the time we had Jizzy Pearl singing with us and he gave notice. Ya know, we had three really good years with Jizzy, but he wanted to concentrate on his solo career and wanted to write music for that, so he wasn’t going to write any music for a new QUIET RIOT record. That left me in the situation where I had to find a new singer and I had time to do it because he gave ample notice. He wanted to finish out the year. I needed somebody to fill the void live and to do the record. The first person I reached out to was James Durbin. I was aware of James not only because of the ‘American Idol’ status that he had but also because my guitarist, Alex Grossi, already knew James. I had gotten in touch with James but, at the time, he had just signed on to do a project in Las Vegas and he had no idea how long that was going to run, so that made it impossible. The second choice I had was a singer by the name of Jacob Bunton, who was with [ADLER]. He’s a really, really good singer and songwriter. As it turns out, he wanted to do the record, but he decided to stay off the road for awhile, so that didn’t work out. People say everything happens for a reason and ultimately the reason came about and James was available when we needed him the most. He came into the fold and it’s been a really, really great experience to work with him. I just think it’s the right time to do a QUIET RIOT record. We haven’t released an official QUIET RIOT record since 2006, when we released ‘Rehab’, which was the last record we did with Kevin DuBrow. I think 11 years was a good enough rest from the record business.”
Icon Vs. Icon: There are peers of QUIET RIOT putting out some of the most inspired music of their careers on new albums. Are these albums getting the attention they deserve?
Banali: “It’s interesting because ‘Road Rage’ is getting a lot of attention, although some of the things we had done in the past didn’t receive as much attention. The music industry has changed so much that in many ways it barely exists. The days of radio being supportive of either a new act or an established act where you could send them your new product or walk in with it to do an interview and the DJs were free to play it, well, that doesn’t happen anymore. Everything is corporate. A lot of things are pre-programmed and there isn’t a lot they can do. It has changed from that dynamic. I’m just really pleased that the attention that ‘Road Rage’ is getting is phenomenal. The early reviews that have come in have been really great. What’s gratifying for me is that different people have reviewed the record and, while some of the people like some of the same songs, what they like really runs the gamut. Some people like some of the deeper or less obvious tracks on the record. You don’t want people to just like one or two songs that are the most user-friendly for a lack of a better term. Any time you can create a body of work on a single record where so many people like so many different songs, that’s the most gratifying experience you can have.”
Icon Vs. Icon: What keeps a band like QUIET RIOT going?
Banali: “Perseverance, dedication, a work ethic and being able to look at every situation from a lot of different angles and not make knee-jerk reactions to it. You have to take it all in. It’s good to listen to criticism but it’s also good to understand the source of the criticism. If the source of criticism is not valid then the criticism isn’t valid. You can’t be thin-skinned in this business because this business is built on a foundation of rejection. You really have to be able to put everything in place. You also have to believe in yourself, fight for what is yours, never look back and keep moving forward.”
Read the entire interview at Icon Vs. Icon.